Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • How God Uses Our Failures at Work. Russell Gehrlein writes “The Bible teaches us that failure is one of the main tools God uses to make us more Christ like. He transforms us through these experiences if we allow Him to do so. In addition, God sometimes opens up new opportunities to serve Him.”
  • 5 Ways to Leave a Legacy Through Mentoring in Retirement. Jeff Haanen writes “What if the 87% of Baby Boomers who believe in God decided that a central way they were going to spend their retirement was by mentoring young people through their local church? What if America’s retirees traded comfort for purpose, and swapped retirement villages for communities of intergenerational friendship?”
  • Dad Secret: What if I Enjoy Work More Than My Family? Chap Bettis writes “Be faithful in the drudgery and little things. God didn’t just give you two children to influence, but eternal souls to cultivate. And your daughters have only one dad.”
  • Five Productivity Tips for Busy Leaders. Matt Perman shares five essential things to keep in mind as you aim to effectively lead your team, organization, business, or church.
  • Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Opportunity Tim Challies writes “But while work may not be exciting and may not be particularly fulfilling, I’ve been struck recently by how much our joy can be improved or eroded by people who work very ordinary jobs.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Whatever You Do: Six Foundations for an Integrated Life, edited by Luke Bobo
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life

  • Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. On this episode, Ian Cron and Allie Stanley join Andy to talk about how the Enneagram can help leaders understand the lens through which they see the world, as well as how to lead each type more effectively.
  • A Manifesto for Financial Advisors. Jeff Haanen writes “Christian financial advisors are the innovators who call for a new movement of work, sabbatical, and re-engagement based on God’s design for work over a lifetime (Leviticus 25). They openly challenge the Let’s vacation paradigm of retirement, and honor the men and women who work later in life as the dignified elders of our churches, communities, and society.”
  • 3 Myths That Fuel Burnout (and 1 Truth That Extinguishes Them). Jenn Hesse writes “The temptation to overwork stems from wrong assumptions about who we are and what God is calling us to do. Identifying three myths we believe about work—and reasserting the truth that should guide our actions—can help us avoid burnout as we labor to shine the light of the gospel.”
  • Why Your Creativity Matters to God. Art Lindsley writes “We will not answer the call to creativity without a framework that provides context for creativity and cultural transformation. The four-chapter gospel is that framework, giving meaning to our creativity, our faith, and our work.”
  • Help! I Don’t Know How to Bring My Faith to Work. Gregory C. Cochran writes “The vocational view understands work as a “calling. The point of the vocational approach is the complete integration of life and work (of faith and ethics).”
  • Redeeming Your Commute. Jessica Schroeder writes “Commutes don’t need to be stressful. Their impact upon us has to do with how we handle what they dish out.”
  • Thank God for Plumbers. David Greusel writes “As you go about your day, notice the handiwork of men and women who maybe don’t work in an office, but create things just the same that contribute to the flourishing of our communities. When you see a beautiful building, think about the hands that laid the stones and the plumbers who make sure the structures function as they should.”

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • Leadership heals what is broken by uniting what was fragmented. Tim Keller
  • Work and vocation are not identical. Vocation entails service in the place where God has given gifts and a desire to make a difference in this world. Dan Doriani
  • We may retire from our paycheck, but we never retire from work. We never retire from the privilege and responsibility of neighborly love. Tom Nelson
  • Since God chose to work and commissioned Adam and Eve to work before they rebelled, we should not view labor as a burden. Dan Doriani
  • Dare-to-Serve leaders see each individual as a unique and valuable human being, worthy of dignity. And they treat them accordingly. Cheryl Bachelder
  • Don’t let success go to your head, nor let failure go to your heart. Tim Keller
  • God meant for us to be workers, whether we work at a job, by volunteering, or at home in the family. David Winters and Steve Reynolds
  • Your calling, when you find and embrace it, will result in the merging of your skills, talents, character traits, and experiences. John Maxwell   
  • All labor is honorable. No one ever needs to be ashamed of an honest calling. Whether a potter or a gardener, or whatever else one’s occupation may be, the workman need never blush at the craft or toil by which he earns his honest wage. Charles Spurgeon

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:

Whatever You Do: Six Foundations for an Integrated Life, edited by Luke Bobo. Made to Flourish. 83 pages. 2019
****

This book, the first in the new FWE Foundational Series, is edited by Luke Bobo, who serves as director of curriculum and resources for Made to Flourish, “a network of pastors who seek to encourage and resource each other to integrate faith, work, and economic wisdom for the flourishing of our communities”. In the “Introduction”, Matt Rusten, Executive Director for Made to Flourish sites Barna research which reflects that only 28% of Christian workers are seeking to actively integrate their faith with their work. He indicates that this book, written for pastors, church leaders and their churches, explores how we can pursue a more coherent life and faith in six important areas. Here’s an overview of the book:

  • Chapter 1 explores the unified story of the Bible.
  • Chapter 2 traces God’s mission through the entire Bible.
  • Chapter 3 explores how formation in Christ impacts the whole person.
  • Chapter 4 explores a coherent view of work.
  • Chapter 5 moves from the “me” of faith and work to the “we” of our participation in the broader economy.
  • Chapter 6 explores the role of the local church in the world.

Rusten writes that the chapters have an internal coherence. Taken together, they form the theological scaffolding to make meaning of all of life and form a philosophy of ministry that values whole life discipleship.

Below are a few quotes I highlighted from each chapter as I read the book:

The Bible’s Big Story: How the Grand Narrative Informs Our Lives and Directs Our Mission – Amy L. Sherman

  • The Bible’s big story starts with creation in Genesis 1 and ends with the consummation of Christ’s kingdom in Revelation 22. Without the bookends in their proper place, we will not give God all the honor he deserves. We will not fully grasp our calling to live out our discipleship in every arena of life. We will not fully understand what obedience to the great requirement (Mic 6:8), the great commandment (Mark 12:29-31), or the great commission (Matt 28:19-20) looks like.
  • When our functional theology is truncated to only two installments of the Bible’s four-chapter story, we risk thinking that “saving souls” is the believer’s only vocation, our only calling. But when the bookends are in their proper position, we see our vocations expand beyond the work of evangelism, yet still including it. When we understand the big story, we gain clarity on living an integrated, missional life.
  • We’re here for work that honors God and serves others.
  • Work is both good and normative. It’s not a result of the fall. It’s part of God’s design.
  • Jesus is redeeming all things and accepts no sacred/secular divide.

God’s Mission: An Invitation to Participate in the Redemption of Individuals and Renewal of All Things – Michael W. Goheen

  • The goal of God’s mission is a comprehensive restoration of the world.
  • This creation belongs to God and we will one day give account for how we exercised our gifts and used God’s resources.
  • God’s mission is to restore his whole creation (Acts 3:21), to reconcile all things back to its original shalom and harmony (Col 1:20) and renew the world to what it was supposed to be (Matt 19:28).

Personal Wholeness: Vital for Effective Leadership – Gary Black, Jr.

  • A Christian disciple is expected to steward themselves and their work for the glory of God, God’s kingdom objectives, for the benefit of everyone involved.
  • I suggest that leaders do have a moral responsibility to themselves, to God, and to those they serve through their leadership capacity, to steward their private and public lives in a godly way.
  • I also propose that until our Christian leaders, both laity and clergy, advocate for, and personally engage in, a transparent and holistic process of moral character formation, our churches will not follow suit.
  • Biblical leadership involves accepting a higher responsibility to set an example of the means necessary for experiencing life to the full as a disciple of Jesus inside the kingdom of God.
  • Few of our leaders take the time or realize the importance of engaging in an ongoing moral inventory of their actions, attitudes, motives, goals, intentions, relationships, and the means they are employing to achieve their objectives.
  • The lack of development and commitment to faithful friendships is also where most efforts for moral transformation tend to flail and therefore fail.

The Goodness of Work: Work That Leads to Flourishing – Vincent Bacote

  • Work is indeed good; the task of spiritual formation is incomplete without this important emphasis.
  • The truth about God as the ultimate worker is one of the most vital foundations for the goodness of work.
  • Work that contributes to the good of God’s world is one of the most primary expressions of being a divine image bearer.
  • Christ’s incarnation provides an affirmation of the goodness of work.
  • Redemption also helps us see that all of our work, even without compensation, is for the good of our neighbor.
  • Work is a worshipful response to God that is for the good of our neighbors, whether the “neighbor” is as close as a spouse or as distant as customer on the other side of the globe.

Economic Wisdom: Essential for Glorifying God and Loving Our Neighbor – Greg Forster

  • Growing in economic wisdom is essential for glorifying God and loving our neighbor.
  • To meet the challenge of our times, we must find some way to talk about justice without becoming captive to partisan or ideological agendas.
  • Our daily lives must be reinterpreted in light of God’s action in creating us to be good stewards of his world, working together with one another in holy love.
  • All Christians should become aware of which kinds of economic idolatry they personally tend toward and adopt practices to help them continue discovering blind spots and learning from those with different perspectives.
  • The spiritual formation of the faithful takes place mostly through their daily work in the economy, and the outside world is watching to see if the church has anything to say about these vital matters of life-and-death importance to the common good.

The Local Church: Uniquely Designed and Empowered to Promote Human Flourishing – Tom Nelson

  • Christian spirituality devoid of local church community is a homeless faith.  A homeless faith is an impoverished faith, for we were created and redeemed with community in mind.
  • A church for Monday embraces a robust work and vocational theology recognizing that a primary work of the church is the church at work.
  • Our greatest problem with the local church may not be a head problem, but a heart problem.

Conclusion: Now What? – Luke Bobo

  • The church has perpetuated a dwarf-size version of the Big Story that has traditionally only included the fall and redemption.
  • Such a version of the Big Story is primarily focused on personal evangelism and securing a ticket to heaven. Such a version of the Big Story can stunt the growth of believers and skew how we see.
  • The grand narrative teaches us that all work, except sinful work, is good, contributive, and noble.
  • There is no pecking order of occupations or vocations in God’s workview.
  • The Big Story of Scripture, of which we find ourselves, means embracing, perhaps anew, the unique and divine role of the local church.

Faith and Work Book Club – Won’t you read along with us?

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life by Os Guinness is the best book on calling for the Christian that I have read. The first time I read it was in Dr. Douglass’s wonderful “Spiritual and Ministry Formation” class at Covenant Seminary in 2013. In 2018, on the 20th anniversary of the book, Guinness published a revised and updated edition.

This week we’re looking at Chapter 6: The Haunting Question. Here are a few quotes from the chapter that I found helpful:

  • There is no calling unless there is a Caller.
  • The notion of calling, or vocation, is vital to each of us because it touches on the modern search for a basis for individual identity and an understanding of humanness itself.
  • The Caller sees and addresses us as individuals—as unique, exceptional, precious, significant, and free to respond.
  • God leads forward as we respond to his call. Following his call, we become what we are constituted to be by creation. We also become what we are not yet, and can only become by re-creation as called people.
  • We may refuse the call and remain stunted—unresponsive and irresponsible. Or, we may respond to the call and rise to become the magnificent creatures only one Caller can call us to be.
  • Only when we respond to Christ and follow his call do we become our real selves and come to have personalities of our own.

Next time, we’ll look at Chapter 7: Everyone, Everywhere, Everything.

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 39 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and 2 Corinthians 5:21 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

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